WP Chief Pritam Singh Agrees With PAP That There Are No Grounds To Suspend Iswaran
The ongoing probe into the case involving Transport Minister S Iswaran resurfaced in Parliament yesterday (19 Sep), where Opposition Leader Pritam Singh expressed his party’s disagreement with a motion filed by Progress Singapore Party’s (PSP) Ms Hazel Poa.
On 7 Sep, Ms Poa had filed a motion for Parliament to suspend Mr Iswaran from service “for the remainder of the current session of the 14th Parliament”.
This would mean putting a stop to the latter’s Member of Parliament (MP) salary amounting to S$192,500/year, while he takes a break from his official duties amid investigations.
WP disagrees with motion to suspend S Iswaran
In Parliament on Tuesday (19 Sep), several MPs engaged in debate about the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) case involving Transport Minister S Iswaran.
Most pertinently, they discussed PSP’s motion for Parliament to suspend him, which Ms Poa had filed earlier.
Addressing the motion, The Workers’ Party (WP) chief Pritam Singh noted Ms Poa’s point that the suspension is on the grounds of Mr Iswaran’s arrest and investigation for corruption.
However, he argued that such action is “premature” according to Singapore’s rule of law. This is especially because we aren’t privy to the details of the accusations against Mr Iswaran.
Therefore, until Mr Iswaran proves guilty, Mr Singh said that Parliament should presume his innocence.
On this issue, the WP chief urged PSP members to think about the standard they’re setting for government investigations.
With respect, I would also request the PSP colleagues in this House to consider the precedent their motion would create should a future government decide to fix opposition MPs by way of politically-motivated investigations.
Pritam Singh says taking action against Iswaran now unfair
Listing out different possible investigation outcomes, Mr Singh pointed out that Ms Iswaran’s case could end in any of the following ways:
- no charges
- acquittal after trial
- prosecution applies to withdraw charges
- convictions overturned on appeal
Since his case hasn’t gone through the “wheels of justice”, Parliament cannot decide yet what to do.
WP thus disagreed with PSP’s motion, which Mr Singh deemed “unfair and premature”.
Moreover, such action which he said prematurely passes judgement seeks to “overturn the electoral mandate” people gave Mr Iswaran when they voted for him.
Suspending MP allowance may be appropriate
Despite disagreeing with PSP, Mr Singh posited that there may still be good reason to suspend Mr Iswaran’s MP allowance.
Voicing alleged public sentiment on the matter, he said,
There is disquiet amongst members of the public because he continues to collect his allowance. As far as I know, Mr Iswaran is neither performing duties in his constituency nor in Parliament and his likeness is not found on Town Council or People’s Association banners in West Coast GRC.
Citing Prime Minister (PM) Lee Hsien Loong’s Ministerial Statement on 2 Aug, Mr Singh noted that Parliament would have to interdict Mr Iswaran as an MP to stop his allowance.
However, they did not do so, only placing him on leave of absence. The government merely stated that “consequences [will] follow” after the case is settled, without going into detail.
Hence, Mr Singh sought to clarify whether the consequences will include “a clawback of the MP allowance”.
“I would advance that such a clawback for the period during which he has not performed MP’s duties would be a reasonable expectation of the public,” he stated.
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